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July 12, 2007

Who Will Defend the Children of Priviledge?

The cover story of the Washington City Paper this week is about Late Night Shots, "a very exclusive, invite-only social-networking Web site" enabling rich young white people from good prep schools to get drunk and have casual sex with others of the kind in the Washington, DC area who share their right-wing politics and their sense of entitlement (if that isn't, in this case, verging on the redundant).

LNS claims to have something like 14,000 members. Many are, the article says, Episcopalian or Presbyterian. The whole things sounds like something produced by splicing together the work of John Updike and Bret Easton Ellis with a business plan cooked by a savvy venture capitalist.

Features in the City Paper are often dubiously reported and normally at least twice as long as the content merits, though this one seems competently edited. It might be worth a look for those of you concerned with networks, online and off -- just as an example of something off the MySpace/Facebook binary, so to speak.

But it's the cultural politics of the comments section that I found especially interesting.

The LNS people are not happy with the article. Once past calling the reporter a drunk, a plagiarist, and (this is clearly the real crime) someone who had been a nerd in high school, the discussion focuses on the hostility directed at LNSers by their social and economic inferiors:

At the end of the day, they hate because they are jealous. Jealous of our priviledge, jealous of our economic success, jealous of our fun. I hate to say it but they hate us for the same reasons the terrorists do. Perhaps that's why they all want us to withdraw from Iraq and hand victory to al Qaeda on a silver platter? Ok, I better stop before I go off on a major tangent/rant here.

Oh, but do go on....It seems that the inferiors are hipsters who listen to "indie" music and vote for the Democrats. They are destined to serve the LNSers. And yet these losers, too, claim a kind of superiority. That claim cannot be endured. To quote another comment by an LNS member:

Enjoy your crummy Indie music and making minimum wage. When I need your opinion or critique on privilege, I will be sure to give you a ring (and opinion) while I am renting a car and you are filling up my tank. Both of which you did a terrible job of doing. Hipsters its no wonder you cannot not find a job. Keep writing about us and we will be sure not give damn whether you live or die. That is the thing about your purported privilege. While you are busy writing about us, we are busy running the world and making money so you have something to write.

How true! And yet it does not take much dialectical finesse to suspect that the claim to indifference here is overstated, even blatantly contradictory.

There is an obvious urgency of feeling that mangles the promise "we will be sure not [to] give damn whether you live or die." Likewise with the other LNSer's rather shakily performed claim of a "priviledge" that can only be envied.

Perhaps what we have here is the opposite of the "theft of enjoyment". It is the fear, rather, that one's claim to have access to superior power and pleasure won't be acknowledged at all.

The point of a club like Late Night Shots is, in large part, to keep other people out of it. That's obvious. But those other people have to (be imagined to) want in.

The greatest terror is not that they will try to overthrow you -- or even that they might somehow break through the barriers of exclusivity. It's that the outsider might laugh at the exclusivity.

Speaking of which, there is a comment about a t-shirt that does sound like it's on the same wavelength in regard to the fantasy of exclusion, except apropos the hipster variant. It reads: "I listen to bands that don't even exist yet." What's good for the goose....

(crossposted from CT)

Posted by smclemee at July 12, 2007 7:35 PM